By Anand Patel
We can’t help it.
As real estate professionals we sometimes are trapped within an industry bubble. We attend conferences, meetings, seminars, mastermind groups all related to the real estate industry. We spend most of our time with fellow real estate professionals (our whole business is based on cooperating with our competition). The topic of many of our conversations inevitably revolves around buying and selling real property. It’s easy to get stuck doing and thinking the same…day in and day out.
Because of this, it’s no surprise that a majority of the disruption and innovation happening in the real estate industry today is coming from individuals and companies outside the field. Why? They provide a fresh perspective as an “outsider” peering into a profession that, in their eyes, appears broken. Many of those taking on the challenge personally went through a real estate transaction and realized a need that wasn’t being met.
There is no reason why more solutions can’t come from within the real estate industry.
Imagine the innovation that can take place if more professionals within the industry adapted a broad-minded perspective to challenge our everyday thinking. It doesn’t have to be a major disruption to change the whole industry – it can be something as small as going paperless in our offices, changing how we communicate MLS listings with our buyers, or perhaps considering unconventional marketing techniques.
Here are some ways to help start thinking “outside the house”:
- Attend non-industry related networking events and conferences. Examples would be medical events, tech or social media barcamps, attorney mixers, art shows, events for retailers, hospitality, or trade shows…pretty much anything outside of real estate.
- See if your city has locally-hosted Tedx events (x = independently organized TED events). If so, I HIGHLY recommend attending one. It will change your perspective on many things and truly inspire you.
- Subscribe to the free emails at sites like www.fastcompany.com. Read the articles and think how it can be applied to real estate.
- Make a point to engage in conversation with other professionals. Ask them questions. What are their challenges? What solutions have they come up with?
While attending a session on the future of mobile technology a couple of months ago locally in Tampa, I engaged in conversation with a physician who was looking to create a mobile solution for doctors to communicate better with their patients. As we got into deeper conversation he shared with me a frustration he experienced quite often: “You know, every now and then I will get a patient whom, after I explain to him my diagnosis, will say something like, ‘Well, WebMD tells me this is wrong with me…not what you are saying!’.” Doesn’t this conversation sound very similar to ones real estate agents have with buyers or sellers who tell them Zillow says the house is worth $X and not $Y? Who would have thought that other industries faced such similar challenges, right?
Now there is nothing wrong with WebMD or Zillow, but it is interesting to hear the similarities in our challenges across different fields. I asked this doctor, “What’s your solution?” He said he is making it his mission to put out as much content as possible to make sure HE is the resource patients come to for advice, not another third party. Again, sounds like a solution we hear in our industry as well, doesn’t it?
As you actively engage with other professionals, you will have many conversations like this with those outside the field of real estate. Sometimes the solution has already been discovered elsewhere and can be applied to our field. Sometimes the conversation can spark a unique solution.
It doesn’t matter what field you are in – medical, law, hospitality, retail, entertainment, real estate…there is always opportunity for us to think outside the “house.” Imagine what we can come up with!
What do you think?
Anand Patel is broker and president of Pangea Realty Group based in Tampa, Fla. You can connect with Anand on Twitter: @anand_tampa, Facebook: www.facebook.com/prgtampa, or LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/anandpatel1.